Wednesday, February 08, 2006

Feeding a Troll, or Having Lunch With a Friend? The Conundrum of the Anonymous Comment

Yesterday's post was an experiment. I wanted to push a boundary. I wanted to see if I still had the freedom to be "the rabble" and still be able to lob a tomato or two.

And while I don't know who the "anonymous" poster is, I do know that my own position as far as being an Average Jane Blogger ain't totally what it used to be.

Anonymous' comments may have been a way to intimidate--to have a certain power over me.

Then again, maybe they weren't.

Without any meta-filters--facial expressions, vocal tones, gender cues, or a name--to figure out what's truly going on, knowing how to consider a comment, and if to trust the commenter, is difficult.

It's like trying to figure out if you're feeding a troll who just wants to prove a point and have power....or if you are having an exchange with a friend or someone who will have an impact on you at some point, and really might be trying to be polite.

Usually I assume that people who are important folks will email me directly and let me know if they think I'm off-base. But, they, like me, might be trying to engage in their own commenting experiments--or have their own reasons for not wanting me to know who they are. For some folks, there's always the top-down communication thing, and the peer-to-peer thing is only a bit of lip-service.

Now, I could turn around and say that I'm not going to be intimidated by an anonymous poster who may be projecting his bad mood on to me. Yet, still, maybe I should consider the advice of someone who I know is a trusted and authoritative voice in the journalistic community (no, I'm not dropping names--just not polite), who I asked for a bit of career advice, who said I might want to consider 86'ing this blog and write "smart and newsy" from now on.

I may or may not truly care who the anonymous commenter is, but I know who the other advice-giver is--and while I never really kowtowed to folks who seems to relish pointing out how inferior I am, I know that the other guy has a much better perspective of who I am and what I can do.

I know too, that the adviser would never, *ever* take the kind of tone with me that the anonymous poster did--even if he felt I was horrifically off base. And he'd email before he left a comment in that tone, too. That's just the kind of guy he is.

So, when someone comments anonymously, in some respects, I must decide whether to feed the troll or if I'm having lunch with a trusted friend and adviser. I can't tell from the comments, but I know from the email.

This is, though, far from over.

Stay tuned...

p.s: I've been looking at my stats...and checking them twice... figure it out from there.

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